Scarlett Lee, singer, songwriter and runner up in the last series of The X Factor chats with Kevin Cooper about drawing a picture of Simon Cowell, performing duets with Robbie Williams and Leona Lewis, dealing with internet trolls and the forthcoming X Factor tour.

Scarlett Lee is an English singer-songwriter, best known for finishing second in the fifteenth series of The X Factor.

She first auditioned for the fourteenth series of the show in 2017 when aged 19, where she reached the six-chair challenge. She was briefly given a seat by her mentor Sharon Osbourne after her performance of Without You by David Guetta feat. Usher, but was later sent home after a dramatic sing-off between her and eventual finalists Rai-Elle Williams and Alisah Bonaobra, during which she sang The Power Of Love by Jennifer Rush.

In her first audition this series, Lee performed her own original song Survival, but was stopped by Simon Cowell, who was unimpressed with the song. As Cowell urged her to use her performance to convince the audience to root for her, she performed a cover of Loren Allred’s Never Enough which earned her four yes votes from the judges.

In week five’s results, after the elimination of Bella Penfold and Shan Ako, she became the last act in the Girls’ category. Finishing as the runner-up, she performed One More Sleep with Leona Lewis in the final.

Whilst busy preparing for The X Final Tour, she took some time out to have a chat with Kevin Cooper and this is what she had to say.

Scarlett good morning, how are you today?

I’m good thank you Kevin, in fact I really should say that I am very good. How are you this morning?

I have to say that I am very well thanks and before we move on let me thank you for taking the time to speak to me today.

It’s a pleasure, thank you very much for having me. I really do appreciate it.

And I have to ask you, just how is life treating you at this moment in time?

Oh god it’s literally a dream at the moment. I am honestly living the best life that I could ever have dreamt of. It’s sad that 2018 is finally over but for me it has been a good year. Having said that I am excited to see just what 2019 will bring (laughter).

Let me pass on my congratulations for being the runner up on The X Factor.

Thank you, thank you very much.

You have successfully avoided the curse of the winner haven’t you (laughter).

(Laughter) yes I have haven’t I (laughter). Everyone keeps telling me about the curse of the winner on the show but I have to tell them that I didn’t realise there was one because when you are in that bubble you tend to forget such things. I think that people tend to think that you are in the competition to win it but you are genuinely not. Having said that, it is really daunting when you are standing there as one of the top two entrants, and you suddenly think ‘oh my god one of us could win this’. But now that I have looked at all of the people who have come second on the show and just how successful most of them have become I have to say that I find that quite inspiring.

Having said all of that, were you disappointed not to have won?

No most definitely not. To be honest with you when I first auditioned for the show I honestly didn’t think that I was going to get through. So for me, anything beyond that was just a welcome bonus (laughter).

You entered The X Factor in 2017 when, some would say, you were controversially axed by Sharon Osbourne at the six chair challenge. What made you decide to give it another go?

Yes that’s right, Sharon did axe me at the six chair challenge last year so this year I came back to prove a point to myself that I was good enough because last year when I was on the show I didn’t come across the way that I wanted to. I honestly didn’t feel that I had fully showcased my ability. So I came back determined to prove to the judges that I believe that I am good enough. And fortunately this year I got through. If you ask any of the other contestants who went through the competition with me, they will tell you that whenever I went into rehearsals on Sunday I would be like ‘girls, what’s just happened’ (laughter). I was simply ecstatic at getting through week after week and then to be voted into second place I was like ‘oh my god’. My whole life was literally made up (laughter).

What was it like working with Mr Cowell?

That was incredible. Simon has been so supportive of me especially when some of the other girls were voted off the show. I feel that I have always had a good relationship with Simon and his girlfriend Lauren (Silverman) was always working with me back at the house and I have to tell you, that really was fun (laughter). It was really nice to see that their relationship was not just staged for the TV; they really are a super couple. Simon liked what I liked and it was great to have Lauren fight my corner (laughter). Simon actually picked Your Song for me to sing in the finals and at first I was like ‘no way’ as I really didn’t want to sing that song but when he came to my home he sat down and explained to me what he envisaged and suddenly it all made sense to me. It was really good to get to know him on a personal level and he knows me too on a personal level; he knows me really well which is why he was able to pick out that particular song for me. It was really nice.

If you now know Simon on a personal level, couldn’t you have dressed him a little better (laughter).

(Hysterical laughter) I know exactly what you are saying. Having said that I think that this year he really made an effort because every single time I saw him he was wearing a suit. I have to say that for a man of his age he really does look well. You know what, he can do whatever he wants (laughter). Everyone who I speak to always mentions Simon’s dress sense, or lack of it, and it always makes me giggle. I just might have to shop for him next time. Those jeans… (laughter).

Now then, I have heard that you once drew a picture of Simon?

(Laughter) oh my god, who have you been talking to (laughter). That’s right, when I was seven years old I drew a picture of Simon and I showed it to him during my audition last year. I was really embarrassed and said “mum I’m not going to show it to him” but mum really did insist that I show it to him. So during the audition, I plucked up the courage to show Simon the picture and the first thing that he said was,”oh god, my trousers are so high up” (laughter).

How did you feel when Dalton (Harris) was named the winner?

I was more than happy to see Dalton win. When you are in that competition none of us are ever losers, we are all winners. It got to the point that when I eventually reached the final I stood there on the stage, looked out at all of the audience and thought to myself ‘oh my god, I’ve finally made it’. I know that this might sound silly but I feel really proud that Dalton was the winner. It takes such a lot of guts and determination to deal with the challenges of the show and I just feel so proud of Dalton, and I am more than happy that he won.

On the show you performed duets with both Robbie (Williams) and Leona (Lewis) just how did that feel?

Oh my god, what can I say. It’s very bizarre for me to even think that I did that. What can I say, it was amazing (laughter). With Robbie we were both locked in a room with two microphones, and I have to say that he made me feel so comfortable. We always had a laugh, a joke and nice discussions. Robbie really did help me and guide me. I have to be honest with you and say that singing with Leona was just the biggest shock. I first met her over in Los Angeles and then a few months later I was singing with her to one of her Christmas songs in the final of The X Factor. Whilst it was a dream come true for me it really was overwhelming. Doing that has really made me feel more confident in myself; it really was inspiring.

Did you always want to have a career in music?

Yes it was. I can remember when I was young and I wanted to enter a singing competition but my mum would never let me. She was right when she told me back then that I needed to have the right mind-set, so that I was able to handle and accept rejection. She told me that people along the way would always be prepared to bring me down. Because of my weight I was always being bullied in school and nowadays I have to contend with internet trolls and all that kind of stuff. I have to say that looking back I really was weak when I had to deal with all of these things. My mum made sure that I handled everything in the right way whilst I was growing up.

So for me, from the very second that I could accept rejection, that made me stronger to go out there and try to do something that I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I am so happy that music has now finally become my career. What I have always wanted to do deep down in my heart is singing and now that I am here it feels very emotional, and I am so happy that I did follow my dream.

What has been the highlight of the show for you?

That’s easy, the highlight of the show for me was when the three of us finalists sang with Robbie. When he turned around and said “please welcome onstage the final three” and the audience erupted I just thought what the hell is happening here (laughter). Also when I made Diane Warren cry, that is something that I will literally take with me to my grave. I swear that it was so emotional, I will never get over that. For me it was such an iconic moment; it really did move me to tears.

Why did you chose The X Factor and not Britain’s Got Talent or The Voice?

Plain and simple I am the biggest X Factor fan ever (laughter). I have been to see every X Factor tour and guess what, I am going to be a part of the next tour (laughter). I have always supported the show; I have had my mum and dad acting it out, I even had my dad rolling his trousers up pretending to be Simon (laughter). Since I was a child in pyjamas I have always watched the X Factor. It has always been something that happens in our home leading up to Christmas. Obviously Britain’s Got Talent is good as is The Voice but The X Factor has always had it for me. It really is a passion of mine, I have always loved the show. Everyone on the show works so very hard for the contestants, and for people to do so much hard work for me really does enforce the fact that it always has and always will be The X Factor for me.

What piece of advice would you give to anyone who is thinking about auditioning for the show?

All that I would say is go out there and do it. There may be tens of thousands of people auditioning for the show but despite that just be yourself. I walked into The X Factor and I walked out of The X Factor as the same person. Nothing has changed; fame hasn’t gone to my head. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that I am famous. However, I do get recognised in the street now and I can no longer go to Tesco in my pyjamas any more (laughter). So all that I would say is just be yourself and do everything that you want to do. And who knows, if you have the right mentor like I did then he will showcase the best version of you to everyone out there. Just keep your head on your shoulders and your feet on the ground, and be grateful at all times.

Whenever you get any downtime, who do you listen to?

Oh my god, who do I listen to (laughter). Simon Cowell singing to me, (laughter) no I’m joking. I listen to a lot of people who generally inspire me; people like James Arthur. I was besotted with him when I met him, he really is amazing. I love Aretha Franklin, and I was so sad when she recently passed away. I like Little Mix and Justin Bieber but to be totally honest I listen to almost everything. I love raw music; music that comes from the heart.

You have briefly mentioned Aretha, who would you say has inspired you along the way?

I have to say that Aretha has always been my inspiration. I have always enjoyed listening to the older soul legends and I think that is because my dad was a little bit older than normal dads. I love listening to soul music and the songs that touch your heart. They make you sit-up, listen and cry. Whenever I write I never write a normal love song; it really has to be deep-felt. So for me it is looking at people like Aretha and Amy Winehouse. It is all about looking up to the people with the voices, together with the story behind it.

Where would you like to see yourself in five years’ time?

Five years from now I just want to be happy and successful. It would be great if I had an album out, but I have to be honest with you and say that I will still be the same person as I am now. I just want to surround myself with music, love and my family. To be successful really is the main thing for me.

Are you looking forward to being out there on The X Factor tour?

I really am so excited; I feel like a kid at Christmas (laughter). I have already told the girls that I really do need to start packing for the tour. When I moved into the X Factor house I took nine suitcases of clothes with me (laughter). I am so excited that I am going to be able to dress up and sing to people. Also on the tour I am going to be singing an original song which really is going to be fun. It is going to be a massive party with all of my little babies who I did The X Factor with; it really is going to be lovely.

And of course the tour kicks off here in Nottingham as usual at The Motorpoint Arena on Friday 15th February.

It does and do you know what, I really do love Nottingham. I have played a few gigs there over the years and it is absolutely brilliant. For me it is going to be very exciting to come back to Nottingham and perform there once again. It is just going to be so much fun; it really is going to be amazing.

When do rehearsals start?

We have already started and I have to say that everyone is sounding great. However, I have to say that I have been rehearsing every day since the end of the show (laughter).

Now down to what could be the embarrassing part, what was the first record that you bought?

(Laughter) oh my god I think that it was something by S Club 7. Yes it was, thinking about it, it was Never Had A Dream Come True by S Club 7 (laughter). Simon wouldn’t allow me to sing an S Club 7 song on the show (laughter). He simply said no.

Who did you first see performing live in concert?

That’s easy it was Justin Bieber and I had tortured my mum for tickets for around five years (laughter). I love him, he is just so good.

What was the last song or piece of music that made you cry?

Oh my god, are you joking (laughter). I know that this may sound a little pompous but I have to say that it was when I sang Your Song on The X Factor. When I watched it back recently it really did make me feel very emotional.

On that note Scarlett let me once again thank you for taking the time to speak to me today, it’s been great. You have a great time and I will see you here in Nottingham.

Thank you so much for speaking to me Kevin and hopefully I will get to meet you soon. Take care and bye for now.